In times like these living off grid really comes into its own and a global pandemic and lockdown such as this coronavirus doesn’t really impact a full off grid lifestyle.
Now personally I’m not totally off grid due to not being able to grow my own food, and therefore relying on grocery shops, and my kids being in school. However, much of the panic won’t be reaching the off gridder’s in the same way as the rest of you.
Firstly the basic principle of paying bills is non existent as we generate our own electric, supply our own water from the land and deal with our own waste. Again, personal disclaimer I put my bins out to be collected but obviously compost and recycle everything I possibly can.
Next issue which has been a biggy so far with coronavirus is rent and mortgage payments, unless you’re rich it’s unlikely you own your own house/land outright. However, having lived off grid for 20 years I’ve always owned my own home. My first caravan cost me the grand total of £20, I know, big bucks right?! From then on I’ve continued to exchange vans, trucks and trailers and now, with a bit of help from the family, we own our own static caravan. So far to park these various homes on wheels on land I’ve swapped a park up for work on the land. More and more folk are offering this and its down to personal situation what you agree on. There’s also council tax which, even if you own your property outright, you still need to pay. A great way to deal with this is something from the homestead that yields just enough to cover your rates. This could be honey or eggs or payment from a mast on your land. I’ve even thought it would be worth connecting a wind turbine to the grid just to sell the electricity to cover unavoidable costs.
Next is income, as us off gridder’s don’t have many outgoings we don’t need a huge income, most of us generate cash from the land or are self employed working with our passion. For me personally after I had been living in a van for 5 years I decided to get qualified in something useful, so I studied and practically used renewable energy. This passion brought myself and my now husband together and we’ve conjured a livelihood from it. Each off grid story is unique and has its pros and cons.
Now we can’t all go off grid and of course centralised services are vital to a lot of people, but perhaps we can all become aware of who we rely on for vital services and where we could help or share or use less for the greater good.
So far this lockdown has been a big kick up the backside for me that I’ve become complacent and rely on centrally controlled services for my existence and will definitely be growing more food in the future even if it’s not my own land as we will all benefit from it.
Our business REsource living was set up 10 years ago to inspire and educate about renewable energy and sustainable living. Our summers are spent, when not in a lockdown, touring festivals providing solar power, lighting and education. The rest of our time is spent installing off grid power systems. We’ve always had this pay or learn policy, if you want to learn how to install your own off grid power system we have all the information you need and are happy to talk you through it for no charge. If you have no desire to install it yourself we can design, build and install for a fair price. This works on a sliding scale for example you may want us to design and build but send to you to install. Whichever option people choose, even though we’re always on the end of a phone for troubleshooting (winter solstice is a busy time for us!), when you choose to live with off grid power you need to learn about your system.
It’s a bold choice and not always convenient but it feels like real living.